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In the News

Feeding Stomachs and Filling Hope

Features 09 Jul 2020

When COVID-19 struck, the vulnerable groups in the community were badly affected by the circuit breaker’s strict social distancing measures and gloomy economy. Many lost their jobs, low-income families received salary cuts, students stopped receiving subsidised meals due to home-based learning, migrant workers were no longer allowed to cook in their shared dormitory kitchen spaces, and elderly persons were confined to their homes due to mobility issues and their vulnerability to the virus.

As a social service organisation that seeks to serve the community and enrich the lives of the less-privileged, YMCA of Singapore provides emergency financial assistance to needy families and provides purposeful work training opportunities. This includes individuals with special needs, out-of-school youths and youths-at-risk to integrate them back into society with meaningful programmes and activities. Quite naturally, with the COVID-19 crisis, YMCA started to look out for groups made vulnerable by the current pandemic.

Having identified these groups and the challenges they faced, the organisation immediately “rolled up its sleeves” to start reaching out and address the urgent need for food accessibility and provide complimentary meals to help them tide through the challenging period.

“During the pandemic, many groups face increased challenges and difficulties in their lives. Vulnerable groups, especially, face unique and great strains in many ways.” - Steve Loh, General Secretary and CEO, YMCA Singapore

It launched the Wok The Talk initiative to provide a win-win situation for the larger community. As social distancing restrictions also greatly impacted the income for hawkers, taxi and private hire drivers, the initiative seeks to create a viable ecosystem that also benefits them. The plan is simple. Hawkers will prepare the food and the drivers will deliver it to those in need. The only thing needed to be addressed was the funding for the project. 

“We were unsure if we would be able to secure the required funding to sustain these efforts. We also needed a way of getting hawkers and taxi or private hire drivers on board.” - Steve Loh

Thankfully, they were able to gain the support of various partners, in the form of funding, donations or volunteers, as well as to receive overwhelming support and positive responses on online public donation platforms such as giving.sg. Plus, the many hawkers and drivers who responded to their recruitment call on social media who stepped forward to participate in this project.

YMCA Singapore looked at this success and saw the potential for it to reach out to even more people. It was with this in mind that they applied for the oscar@sg fund and received funding to move on in their mission.

Kicking off in May, Wok the Talk is expected to impact over 1,000 clients with the provision of over 70,000 meals and delivery of 400 monthly grocery packs by end July.


Find out more about oscar@sg fund: https://www.temasektrust.org.sg/Oscar​​​​​​​

(Photo Caption: On top of 70,000 meals, 400 monthly grocery packs are expected to be delivered by end July to the less-privileged. Photo credit: YMCA of Singapore)